How Am I Sabotaging My Future? (Part 11)

Successful people learn and grow before they have to.  A baseball player doesn’t just submit a resume and interview for the World Series.  He learns the game, works out, practices the fundamentals and gains experience at many levels.  People in all walks of life earn the privilege of playing in their industry’s “World Series” only when they prepare and “pay their dues.”

While most folks are willing to prepare once they see an opportunity, a whole new level of success comes to those who consistently, intentionally and strategically prepare for opportunities that don’t yet exist. Are you up to the challenge?

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
— Benjamin Franklin, American Founding Father

“The will to succeed is important, but what’s more important is the will to prepare.”
— Bobby Knight, College Basketball Coach

Preparation is a simple process: enlightenment, engagement, empowerment, repeat.  Although simple, it is not always easy.  Preparation is part intellectual, part experience, part emotional, part belief, part conditioning, and part repetition.  Here are the three stages of growth.


It’s true for you, me and everyone else — we don’t know what we don’t now.  Enlightenment, the first stage of growth, is the passing from ignorance to awareness and from awareness to understanding. Sounds simple, right?  It can be for those with curiosity.  Curiosity is the inspiration that causes us to ask “How?” and “Why?”  It’s the energy of learning.  Growth begins with a healthy measure of curiosity.

“Curiosity killed the cat, but where human beings are concerned,
the only thing a healthy curiosity can kill is ignorance.”
— Harry Lorayne, Memory-training specialist, magician

“Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.”
— William Arthur Ward, Author


So, you learned something new.  Now what?  The next stage begins with a choice.  You can reject the knowledge or you can file it away for the future.  There’s a third radical option you can apply it!  The value of knowledge grows with application and your understanding along with it. While sorting the useful stuff from the rest, take a few whacks and see what happens.  Be creative.  Look for interesting ways to use your new knowledge and practice your new skills.  You might be surprised.

“The strongest principle of growth lies in the human choice.”
— George Eliot, Novelist

“You don’t know how much artists go through to make it look so easy.
It’s all in the practice.”

Lauryn Hill, Singer, actress


There’s value in the first two stages.  But, the greatest value is not in having knowledge and experience.  It’s the empowered person you become during the process.  This new and improved person gains confidence and a preference favoring the newfound knowledge and capabilities over the old.  As the growth process continues, preference transforms into conviction.  That’s real growth — that’s empowerment!

“Between stimulus and response there is a space.
In that space is our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
— Viktor E. Frankl, Holocaust survivor, psychiatrist

“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.”
— Napoleon Hill, Author

In a rapidly-changing world, success comes to those who have a hunger to grow even when there is no apparent urgency.  People who learn only when they have to are sabotaging their futures.

How Am I Sabotaging My Future? (Part 8)

Pastor Jim Riggle of Ohio, while preaching a powerful message on the consequences of the spiritual choices we make, said that choosing between what is good and what is better can be a hard choice.  But, choosing between better and best is even harder.  The choice he was referring to was between things of this world and things of Heaven.  But, we face hard choices in smaller matters, too.  You see, our perception of “good” has come to mean “good enough.”

How hard is the choice?  Retired basketball coach Bobby Knight alluded to the difficulty and its win/lose consequences.

“The will to win is not nearly as important
as the will to prepare to win.”

I recall hearing Zig Ziglar speak to the same issue when stating that it is easy to win in the game of life when most people quit or don’t even try.  He could have said that trading the best (especially before we even try) for what is merely good is a form of surrender, which is nothing less than being on the losing end of a bad deal.  Doing so intentionally is a form of self-sabotage.  Maybe it’s because I can hear the inimitable voice of Zig in my mind, but I like his version better.

Whether the choice is spiritual or something else, why do human beings so readily sabotage their futures by accepting what appears to be good, when better and best are available?  It’s a question for every individual in all important matters and perhaps some small ones, too.  Here are two questions to ask yourself …

  • In what important areas of my life am I settling for less?
  • Why am I willing to settle?

When you discover the answers, take Zig’s advice …

“I’ve got to say ‘no’ to the good
so I can say ‘yes’ to the best.”

— CC